Member of the Week: Eric Phetteplace

Eric PhetteplaceEric Phetteplace is a graduate assistant in Reference, Research, and Government Information at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign GSLIS program. Eric has been an ACRL member since 2010 and is your ACRL member of the week.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Analytical, Creative, Eager.

2. What are you reading right now? The American Community College by Arthur Cohen and Florence Brawer on good ol’ analog hardcover, and on my iPod Touch I’m reading the Gutenberg e-book Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness, and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier by Suelette Dreyfus, with research contributed by Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Connection, Community, Education.

4. Why did you join ACRL? I hope to foster connections with other library and information professionals, to absorb some of their collective knowledge through the media of conferences, listservs, and conversations.

5. What do you value about academic or research librarianship?
I have never worked in an environment wherein I felt both so rewarded and so challenged. The interpersonal aspect of librarianship thrills me; there’s nothing as fulfilling as answering a tough reference question, one which stymied me at first but eventually capitulated, and then having the patron express their sincere gratitude. But even when my results are less than stellar, I immediately consider how I could have performed better and what other strategies might have been more fruitful. That constant challenge keeps things fresh and exciting. My feelings about information literacy are analogous: I love the chance to revise and improve my teaching as much as I enjoy positive feedback from students.

6. In your own words: Far from becoming increasingly irrelevant, librarians and other information professionals will be vital in the 21st Century. As the world moves to a knowledge economy, people who know how to organize, access, and analyze information become invaluable. Librarians possess these skills, certainly, but what’s more they teach them to others, whether through online tutorials, instruction sessions, or those opportune “teachable moments” during reference service. While our value to society will not exempt us from attacks–budgetary or otherwise–we have the chance to use the vicissitude of our times to our advantage, continuing a long tradition of innovation in service of the timeless ideal of equitable access to quality resources.

Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at for more information.